For immediate release
May 6, 2020
Treaty Five Territory, Thompson, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is issuing this statement in response to an announcement that the Province of Manitoba is now collecting First Nations-specific data related to COVID-19 testing in Manitoba.
Regional surveillance of this information will help First Nations to monitor the introduction and spread of COVID-19 within the First Nation population in Manitoba both on and off reserve. Having First Nation-specific data will enable the province and First Nations to identify confirmed cases and assist with controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. This will also provide information to local First Nation leadership, regional health authorities, and the Manitoba First Nations Pandemic Response and Coordination Team to inform planning and preparedness during this outbreak.
“I want to commend the research team at the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba for working diligently to ensure that the province is collecting First Nations data during the pandemic,” stated Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “From my understanding, Manitoba is the first province in Canada to collect this information. By providing this information to First Nations leaders and health directors, the province is showing respect for our need to be informed of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst our citizens.”
On April 3, 2020, the collection of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit identifiers began in Manitoba. All public health providers were advised to ask ALL positive COVID-19 cases to self-declare their First Nations, Metis, or Inuit identity.
On April 28, 2020, the Government of Manitoba and the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat signed an interim Information Sharing Agreement. It will use the First Nations identifiers collected through the provincial COVID 19 intake form. Shared daily reports will include age, gender, pre-existing conditions, on and off reserve according to MB health card information, location of diagnosis (where care is accessed), and death rate.
“Having access to this information will help First Nations better plan for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” shared Grand Chief Settee. “We currently do not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in MKO First Nations and we are working hard to ensure our communities stay free of the virus, however, knowing we will have access to reliable, trusted information about positive COVID cases for First Nations citizens is reassuring.”
MKO continues to advocate for Northern First Nations and continues to share updates as they become available. MKO shares information on COVID-19 on our social media accounts and on a webpage created for this purpose. You can find our COVID-19 webpage here.